Previously : 28) Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) and 29) FannyAnn Eddy (1974-2004) are jointly commemorated in the human rights organisation the Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation, co-founded by 30) Joey Joleen Mataele, who also founded the Miss Galaxy pageant modelled on the western beauty contest, in which the earliest known lgbt contestant was 31) Julia Lemigova (b.1972).
31) Julia Lemigova was not out as lgbt when she competed in the Miss USSR
1990 pageant. The Soviet government had banned beauty pageants in 1959. It was
during the Perestroika era under more democratic leadership that these contests
The first national Soviet
female beauty pageant, called Miss Moscow Beauty, was held in 1988. The
following year it was renamed Miss USSR. Julia Lemigova entered the pageant in
1990 and came second. However, the winner was “dethroned” when she got married,
making Julia the new Miss USSR 1990. She thus became eligible to enter the Miss
Universe 1991 pageant in Las Vegas. On that occasion she came third.
Her move to France after
the Miss Universe pageant developed into something that was other than
glamorous. In 1997 she met banker Edouard Stern and began a relationship which
resulted in the birth of a son, Maximilien. Maximilien was in the care of his
father when he suffered a fatal brain injury. He was only 6 months old. There
may never be a satisfactory explanation, but conspiracy theories abound,
involving Stern’s bank, suppressed autopsy results and a disappearing nanny.
After her son’s death
Julia Lemigova became a successful international businesswoman with several
cosmetics companies to her name. In 2009 she became the girlfriend of tennis
legend Martina Navratilova. They became engaged in a very public manner at the
US Open tennis tournament in 2014 and were married later that year.
As far as can be
determined Julia Lemigova was the first former national beauty pageant
winner to reveal a same-sex relationship. There have been several others since
then, the most recent being last month - Diedre Downs Gunn, Miss USA 2005.
There have been a handful
of openly lgbt reigning national pageant queens. The first was 32) Patricia Yurena Rodriguez (b.1990).
It was as the reigning Miss Spain 2013 that she came out as lesbian. Her titles
cover a range of several years. They are:
Miss Tenerife 2007,
Miss Spain 2008 (and entry
into Miss World 2008)
Miss Tenerife 2013, and
Miss Universe Spain 2013
(and entry into Miss Universe 2013).
Patricia was unable to
enter Miss Universe 2008 because was under the 18-year-old age limit (Spain was
represented by her runner-up). Later in the year, after she passed her 18th
birthday, Patricia represented Spain in the Miss World pageant.
Patricia’s young age went
in her favour five years later when, usually for female pageant contestants
after so many years, she was again voted Miss Tenerife 2013. By this time the
Miss Spain pageant had been divided into two, one pageant for Miss World and
the other for Miss Universe. Patricia Yurena Rodriguez won the Miss Universe Spain
pageant with entry into Miss Universe 2013 to be held in Moscow.
Sadly, we have to bring
some ugliness into all this beauty by introducing two politicians who, unfortunately,
are still around – Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Putin was responsible for
the laws against homosexuality which not only saw protests at Miss Universe but
also at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics held two months later.
The only reason Miss
Universe was being held in Moscow was because Donald Trump, who owned the Miss
Universe organisation at the time, had commercial links in Russia. It’s too
complicated to go into, but it’s a fact that the venue of Miss Universe 2013,
half of the judges, and several contestants who were selected by businessmen
and not by the public, had business links to Trump.
The compere of the
previous two Miss Universe pageants was American openly gay broadcaster Andy
Cohen. He had also compered several Miss USA pageants, but he refused to host
Miss Universe 2013 because of the anti-gay laws. Trump found a replacement,
another openly gay American broadcaster, Thomas Roberts. Recently, Roberts made
a public apology and regretted agreeing to act as pageant host in view of more
recent Trump-Putin-Russia revelations.
That’s enough political
ugliness. Let’s return to beauty. Patricia Yurena Rodriguez, Miss Universe
Spain, was voted the first runner-up (i.e. second) in Miss Universe 2013 in
Moscow. Less than a year later she came out on Instagram becoming the first
reigning national pageant queen to do so.
Spain is unique in that it
is the only nation who has had both a male and female lgbt national pageant
winner. What’s more remarkable is that they both held the same regional title.
33) Daniel Rodriguez (b.1993) (no relation to Patricia as far as I
know) won the Mr Tenerife title in 2016. In June 2016 he won the Mr
International Spain pageant (again, there’s two Spain pageants; Mr
International is the male equivalent of Miss Universe). Just days later, still
in the media circus that follows the pageant finals, he came out as gay. This
was deliberate. He had wanted to show that a gay man can enter and win any
national pageant title. However, his reign was short. Daniel wasn’t happy with
the way the Mr International Spain organisers were using him in their
promotions and he resigned in October 2016.
It’s not only national
pageants that Tenerife and the Canary Islands can boast to have the first lgbt
representatives. The islands can also boast five political firsts in Spain, all
of them achieved by just two people, the first person holding four of them. His
name is 34) Jerónimo Saavedra
Next time : From an Atlantic island to a national
capital and international activism.